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A team of archaeologists, led by a researcher from the University of Bristol, has uncovered the remains of a possible Stonehenge-type prehistoric earthwork monument in a field in Pembrokeshire.

trellyffaint-side-view-article

Side view of the south-eastern chamber looking south-west

Members of the Welsh Rock art Organisation have been investigating the area around the Neolithic burial chamber known as Trellyffaint – one of a handful of sites in western Britain that has examples of prehistoric rock art.

The site of Trellyffaint dates back at least 6,000 years and has been designated a Scheduled Monument. It is in the care of Welsh heritage agency Cadw.

The site comprises two stone chambers – one of which is relatively intact. Each chamber is set within the remains of an earthen cairn or mound which, due to ploughing regimes over the centuries, have been slowly uncovered.

On the capstone that covers the south-eastern chamber are at least 50 engraved cupmarks (one of the most common forms of later prehistoric engraving in Western Europe), the meaning of which has been long forgotten but probably represented some sort of pictorial message.

Before now, it is thought that the site has never been fully investigated.

Dr George Nash, lead project director from the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Bristol and his team, which includes former Bristol students, have conducted a series of non-intrusive surveys in and around the monument.

The fieldwork element of the project started in December 2016 following the acceptance of a project design by Cadw.

This phase included a magnetometry study which covered 80 square metres around the monument and a detailed earthwork survey of the monument itself.

The geophysical survey uncovered a number of anomalies which are considered to be more than likely buried prehistoric features.

Dr Nash said: “To the south and southwest of the stone chamber and appearing to run underneath the southern section of the Trellyffaint mound are two clear circular anomalies.

“It is regarded that this feature may possibly be a henge (otherwise referred to as a hengiform) measuring around 12 metres in diameter.

“It is not clear if this feature possesses an accompanying ditch, however, a circular anomaly extends around this feature, again we are unclear of the relationship (if any) with the smaller circle – only excavation will tell.”

Further subsurface features of a probable later prehistoric date occur to the north-east, north and west of the Trellyffaint monument.

Although the precise depth of these features is, for the moment unknown, the team were interested to note that 2-3000-years’ worth of accumulated soil has not created any visible earthworks. This phenomenon though is not uncommon in coastal areas where soil deposition and accumulation can be rapid.

Dr Nash added: “This site, one of only nine Neolithic burial-ritual monuments in Wales with prehistoric rock art – or what I would term aptly ‘a visual communication system’.”

So far, the results of the geophysical survey have yielded a set of subsurface anomalies that reveal a complex ritualised landscape that includes the precursor to a Stonehenge-type earthwork monument and is similar to the six or more features that were found using similar geo-prospection methods at the nearby Neolithic site, Trefael, in 2012.

Dr Nash said: “The next stage of the project is to apply for Scheduled Monument Consent (SMC) which will include targeted excavation over recognised anomalies identified from the magnetometry survey.

“Before we do this, we will be widening the geophysics area and apply resistivity as well further magnetometry over a wider area.”

This fieldwork will take place between April 21 and 23. For details on how to get involved, visit the Welsh Rock Art Organisation’s Facebook page.
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Wessex Guided Tours offer archaeology tours of South West Britain.

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Mystical Glastonbury – Druids, Earth Goddesses, Myths and Legends, Ley Lines …

Glastonbury, like Tintagel in Cornwall, South Cadbury in Somerset and Caerleon in South Wales, is linked by tradition to King Arthur; Glastonbury Abbey is said to have been his final resting place. 

Our private guided tours allow you to climb Glastonbury Tor

Our private guided tours allow you to climb Glastonbury Tor (King Arthur’s Avalon)

The Historical Figure of Arthur

Very little reliable evidence survives from the fifth and sixth centuries when the historical Arthur lived. This period is known as the Dark Ages or Post-Roman period which followed the departure of the Romans from Britain. Some historians doubt whether Arthur really existed; others see him as a warrior king who led the Britons in their resistance against the Anglo-Saxon conquest of England.

Glastonbury is a centre for mystics, earth spirits and such like, a substantial part of what makes Glastonbury unique.

The Arthur of Medieval Literature

From the 12th century Arthur became the central figure of one of the great cycles of medieval European literature – the Arthurian romances. These have their origin in Geoffrey of Monmouth’s imaginative History of the Kings of Britain, completed in 1138. Geoffrey’s account provided many of the elements of the story, from Arthur’s conception at Tintagel to his last battle against Mordred at Camlann and final rest in Avalon, and featured his father Uther Pendragon, his wife Guinevere, his sword Excalibur and the wizard Merlin. Later writers added further characters and many variations on Geoffrey’s tale, depicting Arthur as a great warrior defending Britain from human and supernatural enemies, with related themes of the Holy Grail and the Knights of the Round Table.
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Join us on a  Quest for King Arthur’s Avalon and the Holy Grail will weave myth and legends with the splendours of the English landscape.

  • We offer private guided tours departing from Bath , Salisbury or even London exploring the many Myths and Legends of King Arthur

    King Arthur’s Avalon
    Glastonbury TorChallice Well and the Holy Grail
    Stonehege Stone Circle
    Cadbury Castle and Camelot
    Tintagel Catle
    Glastonbury Abbey
    King Arthur’s Grave
    Winchester and the Round Table
    Challice Well and the Holy Grail
    Stonehege Stone Circle
    Cadbury Castle and Camelot
    Tintagel Catle

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Lighting up the horses There have been occasions when white horses have been lit up at night, and it appears that there was once a tradition of doing this, at one or more of the horses, but information on this is scarce. The occasions known to me are described below, with the horses listed in alphabetical order. Alton Barnes This horse has been lit up on a number of occasions in recent years. On the night of the winter solstice in December 2001, the Wiltshire Crop Circle Study Group lit the Alton Barnes white horse by candlelight. Some twenty-five people arranged tea lights in jars around the outline of the horse, on what was a very cold, wet and windy night. The jars were laid on their sides, which provided protection from the rain. The effect was dramatic, and despite the wind inevitably extinguishing some of the lights, the horse was still lit late that evening. The group hope to make this an annual event. This information was kindly supplied by Kate Fenn and Deirdre Edwards. The WCCSG arranged to light this horse again on 21st December 2002. I accompanied about a dozen members of the group who set out from Knap Hill car park at dusk in thick fog and rain. In the fog the party became separated, and only half reached the horse! Those of us who got there had between us only about a third of the total number of jars and tea lights that had been brought, but nonetheless we managed to light the horse to good effect, even though it could only be seen from nearby due to the fog. The horse was again lit by the WCCSG on 21st December 2004. The following is an extract from Melanie Gambrill’s account of the event: It turned out to be a great day weatherwise, with the sky clearing in the afternoon so we could watch a beautiful sunset before lighting the horse. Lots of people came so we got the candles and jars ready to light very quickly. As the sun set and the daylight started to fade we lit the candles. It must have been amazing to watch the horse being lit from a distance as the lighting progressed up the horse’s head, along the tail and up the legs until it was completely aglow. As darkness fell the horse lights became brighter and brighter. We could see vehicles stopping along the road below as people paused to view the lit horse. You can find Melanie’s full account and photos of the event here on the Swirled News website. I believe the horse has been lit every year since 2004, up to and including 2008. Cherhill The Cherhill white horse was floodlit to mark the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in 1937. A generator was set up in the valley below, and cables were run up to the site. The letters G E were marked out with red bulbs above the horse, and several large floodlights were arranged to light the horse itself. The letters were lit for five seconds, then the horse for ten seconds, with this pattern repeating continuously. This illumination took place every night during coronation week, except for two nights when very thick fog prevailed. Devizes The new Devizes white horse was completed in September 1999. Later that year, on the evening of New Year’s Eve, the horse was very effectively lit by Pearce Civil Engineering, from dusk through to dawn on New Year’s Day 2000. Pewsey The new Pewsey white horse was constructed in 1937 to mark the coronation of King George VI. After construction it was floodlit for coronation week, and apart from thick fog on two nights the effect was very good. Westbury The Westbury white horse was lit up in 1900, and again in 1950, with equipment provided by the army. Apparently the effect was spectacular, and the horse looked as if it was floating in the sky. In 1950 traffic in Westbury and Bratton came almost to a standstill as drivers slowed down to look. Some local people hoped the horse would be lit up again in 2000 but this didn’t happen. There is local interest in repeating the event, however, and it may be that it will be done again on some future date.

Nicholas – Stonehenge Tour Guide

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